Meter reader is an "invitee" but still cannot sue for fall on ice
Kenneth Ganaway suffered serious injury when he fell while leaving Toni Brustick- and Arthur Olde Hanhof's home after reading their electric meter. He fell on the icy driveway that was covered with "2-3 inches" of snow. The homeowners' insurer argued that Ganaway was not an "invitee" on the property and that in any event the homeowner's owed him no duty because the icy condition was "open and obvious."
The Court of Appeals rejected the claim that Ganaway was not an "invitee." The so-called Engler Majority had limited the duty owned by property owners to guests by holding that only persons on property for a "commercial" purpose are owed the protection of "invitees." The Court concluded, however, that Ganaway was on the property for a commercial purpose, as each party to the electrical service contract derived a significant "commercial" advantage from the provision of electricity to the home. Nevertheless, the Court pointed out that under the Engler Majority's expanded definition of the "open and obvious" doctrine, snow-covered ice is a hazard recognized by objective people and therefore the landowner owes no duty to correct it.